Fresh doping allegations trigger alarm: London Marathon officials chide world body IAAF

Crowds watch runners pass the 26-mile mark during the New York City Marathon in New York, on Nov 5, 2006.
Crowds watch runners pass the 26-mile mark during the New York City Marathon in New York, on Nov 5, 2006.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

London Marathon officials chide IAAF for failed controls

LONDON • The organisers of the London Marathon have criticised athletics' governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), for its "failure to take effective action" in the war on doping.

Nick Bitel, chief executive of the London race, said he was "disappointed" in the IAAF after fresh allegations made by the British newspaper The Sunday Times in the continuing doping storm which has thrown the sport into turmoil.

Thirty-two medal winners at the world's top-six city marathons were among the hundreds of long-distance runners with suspicious blood test results revealed in a leak, the newspaper reported on Sunday.

It said the London Marathon was won seven times over a 12-year period by athletes who had given suspicious blood tests at some point in their careers.

Analysis by the scientists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden of the top three finishers at each of the world marathon majors - in London, Boston, New York, Chicago, Tokyo and Berlin - found that in London seven race winners, six runners-up and seven third-placed finishers gave abnormal blood samples over the period.


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    winners of the big six marathons over a 12-year period should have faced censure or been investigated over evidence of potential blood doping


    London Marathon champions, six runners-up and seven third-placed runners had given suspicious blood tests

It is claimed that 34 winners of those major marathons should have faced censure or been investigated over potential blood doping, while those athletes whose samples were deemed suspicious collected more than £3 million (S$6.4 million) in prize money.

Blood doping is the process of increasing the number of red blood cells in the body to significantly enhance performance, although these allegations do not prove the existence of the practice.

No athletes were named in the claims but London organisers said they had never been informed of abnormal blood test results at their event "between 2001 and 2012, or subsequently". The claims prompted Bitel to release a statement saying the marathon would "be discussing the implications of the allegations with the IAAF".

On BBC radio's Sportsweek programme, Bitel added that, although the marathon paid "tens of thousands of pounds" to test athletes, it did not administer the procedures and did not see the results, so were unaware of any abnormal tests.

"We are disappointed," he said. "We're doing more than anybody else to fight doping in our sport. What this story is really about is the IAAF's failure to take effective action. Those athletes that have been caught have only been caught because of the tests at the London Marathon.

"The IAAF needs to do more to stop people from starting (races) that have blood values that are out of normal range."

The IAAF has defended its drug testing procedures and refutes suggestions of turning a blind eye to doping. But yesterday it received more flak.

A group of German athletes, including world, Olympic and European discus champion Robert Harting, attacked it for allegedly failing to act over accusations of doping within the sport.

The group, including German discus champion Julia Fischer, have put together a video demanding "honesty, integrity and transparency" and accused the world governing body of putting "money over athletes". REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Fresh doping allegations trigger alarm'. Print Edition | Subscribe